Chirps from Center Ice

A fan blog about the AHL's Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins

Weekend Preview: Three, and Out?

So if the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins have any shot at making the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs, they have to get a result out of each of the next three games played on consecutive days.

They may not have it in them. Face it, they have been outgunned and outclassed almost on a nightly basis. They have scored just one goal each in the last three games. Alex Nylander, which makes up a lot of their offense, is in the NHL.

But this is the AHL. Teams go on runs, stuff happens. Teams ahead of you in the standings stall and the teams behind those teams start running down hill and can’t stop.

Thing is, with 14 games left and 28 total points at stake, there isn’t a whole heck of a lot of time here.

Music to set the mood…

Yep, Mission Impossible. Not much of a movie buff, did the guy make it through the mission OK? Did he get what he wanted? Legitimately asking here.

A Quote…

Say goodnight, Gracie.
— George Burns

Personally, I think it’s a fools enterprise, what we are doing here, be we shall continue.

The Setup

A rare three in three, just the second this season for the Penguins. Prime to set the stage and get off on the right foot against tonight’s opponent Rochester, keep the ball rolling in Syracuse Saturday then empty the tank Sunday in Allentown.

Rochester is in a fight for the final spot in the North Division with Laval, Belleville and Cleveland. That is a lot of teams. They are trying to keep pace with Syracuse and Utica for the two seed. They won’t be an easy opponent. They played the Rocket on Wednesday and shut them out 2-0.

Syracuse had a measuring stick game with Providence Wednesday and lost 4-2. They will be in Bridgeport Friday. That offense is potent. Every time Trevor Carrick and Alex Barre-Boulet play the Penguins it seems like they run wild. Gotta mark those guys.

Lehigh Valley is a blood rival, are probably out of reach for the Penguins to catch with this little time and will have played Hershey Friday after hosting them and losing to them on Wednesday. The Phantoms will have Saturday off.

Wolves on an Island

The Islanders and Wolf Pack met in Hartford on Wednesday and Hartford won a 12 goal affair 7-5.

Hartford has Springfield at home on Friday, go to Bridgeport on Saturday and are off Sunday.

Bridgeport has Syracuse as I mentioned above on Friday and host the Wolf Pack.

There are two more head to heads with which involve the Islanders and Wolf Pack, one later this month and another in April.


Only taking a look at the bottom three, the only ones that matter right now on Coal Street.

6. Bridgeport: 13 games left – 62 points.
7. Hartford: 13 games left – 61 points.
8. Wilkes-Barre / Scranton – 14 games left, 55 points

Records against Whomst…

PENGUINS: 0-1 against Rochester, 0-2 against Syracuse, 4-3-1-1 against Lehigh Valley.
Hartford: 2-4-0-2 against Springfield, 4-5 against Bridgeport.
Bridgeport: 0-1 against Syracuse, 5-4 against Hartford.

Penguins score more than one goal and find a way to win the game challenge…

Wilkes-Barre has struggled against North Division teams, just 4-8-2 against the teams which reside there, and three of those wins have come against Cleveland. Syracuse gives the Penguins fits and Rochester treats the Penguins the way the Penguins treat Cleveland, easy two points. The Americans have won eight straight against the Penguins.

One goal simply isn’t going to cut it against the quality of opponents the Penguins are facing this weekend.

How do you overcome it? You get scoring from where it should come from (Valtteri Puustinen, if healthy Filip Hallander) and get secondary guys like Tyler Sikura, Drake Caggiula and Sam Houde to chip in. Find a way to get Andrew Nielsen and Peter DiLibertore in the lineup defensively. Get Ty Glover back in the lineup up front and scratch Jamie Devane.

Easier said than done, and likely impossible as recent history has shown.

Don’t be so hard on them, they are trying their best!

Listen, it’s a team full of role players put there by a hamstrung front office who has no prospects and an aging veteran core in Pittsburgh who are likely one and done in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, if they even make it. The problems you see up top with Pittsburgh are the same problems they have in Wilkes-Barre, save for the three hall of famers in 87, 71 and 58.

Goaltending is a mess and downright shoddy at times.
– Nothing in the hole in Wilkes-Barre. Filip Lindberg is made of glass and Taylor Gauthier is probably two years away, if not more. Dustin Tokarski has too many miles on him and his glory days are behind him.

Forwards are old and too much of a liability.
– The only prospect they have is Alex Nylander, who is already up with them, likely for good, and that leaves a massive hole in Wilkes-Barre. All the other call-ups (Hallander, Caggiula, etc.) were merit recalls. Nice work in Wilkes-Barre, here’s an NHL cup of coffee, don’t take your coat off cause you aren’t staying long. The rest in Valtteri Puustinen (doesn’t play defense), Nathan Legare (they fell out of favor with him), Corey Andonovski (needs about 25 more pounds) and Lukas Svejkovsky, Jonathan Gruden, etc. aren’t anything more than flash in the pan one and done NHL dime a dozen callups. These aren’t prospects, these are role players. Sam Poulin, coming back from a three month leave, isn’t saving this franchise.

Defense is old and too much of a liability.
– They have nothing in the way of defensive prospects. P-O Joseph is that prospect. Ty Smith showed flashes, but I think this is the wrong system for him. They have nothing else. Jon Lizotte, Taylor Fedun and Mitch Reinke are not NHL defensemen. They may be great guys, great teammates, whatever, but they aren’t NHL defensemen.

We fooled ourselves thinking this team was going to go somewhere after making it to a four seed and winning a playoff round last year, but the bottom fell out. They are cap strapped and have nothing in the way of prospects. It’s going to be some long, lean years in Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh.

Who is running the show?

Mike Sullivan and Ian McCambridge Friday with John Rey and Michael Magee on the lines.

Ian McCambridge again with Jim Curtin Saturday in Syracuse with Jason Brown and Sam Cucinotta on the lines.

Cody Beach and Jack Young Sunday in Allentown with Joseph Mahon and Ryan Knapp on the lines.

Looking ahead…

A Friday off, then Saturday and Sunday home games next week against the Phantoms and Wolf Pack, respectively. That Sunday home game against Hartford starts at 5. Yikes.

Give us a bold prediction…

We will all be back in October with the same anticipation that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year.

One response to “Weekend Preview: Three, and Out?

  1. Mike D March 17, 2023 at 12:33 pm

    Good read and yes, hard to get upset with the work ethic of this team. I still would like to see the team go out and make some AHL additions at deadline time. We needed scoring and we add ECHL type defense. Utica, Hartford, etc made loans/trades to improve. Just a little tweaking and playoffs were there for the taking. Not happening now.

Chirp here...

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